Thursday, 14 October 2010

Battles Singles Face (Part 2): Loneliness

As a single person returning home to an empty house or flat can be a painful thing. Seeing close friends meet someone, marry and have a family can be a difficult experience. Whilst we do rejoice with them, there is also the sharp reminder of our single state and the feeling of being alone can sweep over us.

We come to the first of the battles that single men and women face: Loneliness.

In the first part of this series we saw that singleness, as with marriage, is a good gift from God.  It is not a problem that needs to be solved by getting married. Rather, it is a position in life that comes with battles, just as those who are married will face battles of a different kind. If we look to marriage as the answer to the problems that come with singleness we end up turning marriage into an idol. Instead we must see the gospel as the answer to the issues that being single throws at us.

So how does the gospel address this often overwhelming issue of loneliness? I want to suggest that there is two ways that the gospel gives us all we need as we grapple with loneliness. If we are those who belong to Christ, then there are two glorious truths that sustain us in this battle.

1) In Christ we have One who will never leave us or forsake us
This truth is precious beyond measure. Hebrews 13:5 calls for contentment (in this context it is referring to the area of money, but the principle can also be applied more generally) and the ground the author gives for such contentment is God's promise that "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (quoted from Joshua 1:5). If we are in Christ we have One who will never leave us or forsake us. We have a relationship that is more secure than the strongest marriage. Nothing, not even death can undo this relationship. As Paul puts it,
"Who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39)
In Christ we have a relationship closer and more secure than the best human relationship. Even if those closest to us forsake us, He will not (Psalm 27:10).

Therefore, don't wallow in your loneliness, or start chasing after someone to marry to try and alleviate the pain of feeling alone. Instead, flee to Christ. As you battle with loneliness, seek to grow to know and love Him more and more. Seek to enjoy deeper communion with Him through listening to His voice in Scripture and coming before Him in prayer. He alone can satisfy.

2) In Christ we have a family that is closer than any other
Of the great joys of belonging to Jesus is that we also belong to His people. As Christians, God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus' work on the cross. Part of the blessing of this peace that we now have with God is peace with all those who belong to Jesus. We have been brought into one new people of God (See Ephesians 2:11-22). We are part of one body in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

This means that as a Christian we have a family whose bonds go deeper than the bonds we have with any blood-relatives. As Christians we are not alone. We are part of a family, the church. We have many brothers and sisters in Christ to support and encourage us, and to be a support and encouragement to. As Christians we need one another if we are to keep going in the Christian life. The local church is a vital part of living the Christian life.

Therefore, as singles, let us not neglect the family God has given us. Part of the way we battle against loneliness is to look to the brothers and sisters in Christ that God has given us. Instead of becoming discontent with our single state, thank God for the family that He has given us in Christ. We need not be lonely if we are stuck into a local church of genuine brothers and sisters in Christ. Get stuck into a local church, begin to serve and seek the good of your family in Christ, and in turn be served by them. As we do this we will find that loneliness will become less and less of an issue for us.

So, marriage is not the answer to loneliness. The gospel is. Therefore, when the pain of loneliness overwhelms us let us remind ourselves of the gospel. Let us remind oursleves that in Christ we have one who will never leave us or forsake us, therefore run to Him, seek to know Him more. Let us remember that in Christ we have a family that is closer than any human family, therefore seek to serve your brothers and sisters in Christ in the local church and in turn be served by them.

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